The Heteropteryx Dilatata is a very popular pet insect. The appearance of males and females of this species is completely different. The female is big, light green, and one of the heaviest Phasmids that exist.
The male on the other hand is slim, brown, and looks more like a typical walking stick. The Jungle Nymph is native to West Malaysia and Thailand. It is a nocturnal species that cannot fly. The males can accomplish glides, but the females have tiny wings and cannot use them at all.
This species is commonly referred to as Jungle Nymph. When you read Nymph, you might expect a graceful and beautiful walking stick goddess. The Jungle Nymph has definitively a special appearance and some impressive defense mechanisms, but graceful would not necessarily be the first word, that pops into one’s mind.
The Jungle Nymph feels threatened, it will curl up the abdomen over the body and point it towards the predator, mimicking a scorpion. If the predator comes close enough, it will hit the front legs together, sandwiching whatever comes too close.
The spines on the front legs can punch through the skin if your finger was unlucky enough to be the predator.
Just like all walking stick species, the Jungle Nymph only eats plants. This species is polyphagous, which means that it eats many different plants and is not limited to only one or a few plants.
You can feed your pet bramble, hawthorn, ivy, oak, rose, raspberry, and whatever else you want to try out. Just make sure that no pesticides were used on the plants and always rinse them before feeding the leaves, just in case.
Feeding should take place in the evening. Since Phasmids are nocturnal, most of the eating and moving will take place at night. If you put new, fresh leaves in the enclosure in the evening, the Jungle Nymph always has fresh leaves to eat.
The cage should be at least 11 inches tall. The females of this species are bigger than other species and need more space.
The Jungle Nymph needs only very little ventilation. You can choose an enclosure that has all walls closed with plastic or glass, and only the lid or the ceiling can be made of mesh material to allow some air to get in. Thereby you can provide the high humidity that this species needs.
Use some kind of substrate on the floor such as a mixture of hummus and sand, vermiculite, soil, paper towels, Spagna moss, or anything else that can retain and slowly release humidity into the air.
If you are planning to breed, the substrate should be 1 – 2 inches high to allow the female to lay the eggs in the substrate. The eggs can stay in the enclosure with the other walking sticks.
The Jungle Nymph needs a slightly higher temperature than average room temperature. 68° F (= 20° C) is the absolute minimum that the temperature should be at night, and anything up to 86° F (= 30° C) is fine during the day.
The humidity has to be high around 75% – 85% at all times. It is ok to be even higher, but not lower. The Jungle Nymph is used to living in tropical areas and needs this humidity to be able to shed properly.
Regularly spray the enclosure with a fine mist of water on the substrate, the walls, and the leaves. You can use dechlorinated tap water or bottled spring water.
The females of this species are hugs with up to almost 7 inches, light green, and have sharp thorns all over the body and limbs. They have tiny wings that cannot be used for flying or gliding, and the lower wings are pinkish-red. Very rarely yellow or reddish-brown females can be found.
The males are much smaller at around 3.5 inches. They are thin, brown, and also have thorns all over their bodies. Other than females, males have long wings that go all the way over the abdomen and can be used to glide.
This species has a rather long lifespan of around 2 years under perfect conditions. Adulthood is reached after around 12 months.
The Jungle Nymph only reproduces sexually. That means that both males and females are necessary to produce fertilized eggs that can hatch into nymphs.
Ova, Incubation Period
The females of this species bury their ova (= eggs) in soil, therefore you should provide your Jungle Nymphs some kind of substrate on the ground.
The incubation time can be anything between 7 to 12 months. The eggs can be either left in the enclosure in the substrate or taken out and put in an incubator. In both cases, it is necessary to provide high humidity and regularly spray the soil with the eggs to keep it damp.
The development of the eggs is a bit faster if you can keep the temperature between 77° F (= 25° C) and 86° F (= 30° C) all the time.
Once the nymphs hatch, they are able to change their colors to a lighter shading during the day and darker during the night to camouflage even better.
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Jungle Nymph is a very popular pet stick insect, but not the easiest one to start with. It needs high temperature, super high humidity, and has sharp spines all over the body that can potentially hurt you.
It is not a good pet for kids, but if for an adult it can make a good and calm pet. Just keep in mind, that there are other species, that would be easier to keep for beginners, but since the Jungle Nymph has such a special appearance, it is more than understandable, that it is still very popular as a beginner pet.